Role of Government

Role of Government

My view of the role of government is based on two primary factors. The first is that in the majority of cases, the level of government closest to the people on an issue is the level best suited to make policy decisions. The second is that government needs to be efficient in its decision-making and application processes. What does this mean? I think decisions are best made where the rubber hits the road, by the community impacted or the folks paying the bills, but this has to be tempered by making sure the decisions are making the best use of resources.

For instance if multiple cities within a county decided to adopt vastly different tax structures, the collection and remittance of taxes would become cumbersome when moving from city to city by citizens and by businesses that might operate in one city but purchase supplies in another.  The cost of tax collection would be high due to the staff required by the cumbersome nature, which means the net collected wouldn’t be as much as it might be in an efficient system. In this case the efficient application of tax policy would be to make taxing decisions at a level that would provide reasonable uniformity for citizens and business and still meet the revenue needs of the cities.

We have different levels of government for a reason. The federal government would not be a good judge of proper stop light placement in Santa Clara and foreign policy probably shouldn’t be handled at the city level. There is a proper check and balance not just between the executive, judicial, and legislative branches, but also between the levels of government. Cities need to ensure the counties and State aren’t micromanaging. States occasionally need to remind the federal government that different powers are enumerated to State over Congress because the States are more nimble and efficient. In all these interactions between levels of government it is critical to remember that everyone has a role to play and each role is valuable. The checks and balance can be done firmly, but with civility. After all, we do all play for the same team, the people.

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